Well, for all of the writing I’ve done on this, I haven’t really answered the question:

In your opinion, is the “right to education” a basic human right? Why or why not? In your opinion, is open *access* to free, high-quality educational opportunity sufficient, or is it necessary to *mandate* education through a certain age or level?

After all the reading and reflection I’ve done, I would say that the right to education should be is a basic right, but that education should not be compulsory in all cases. For several reasons, I’m not comfortable making compulsory education a global imperative.

Most have to do with local issues. First, some countries are simply not economically capable of providing universal free education. (Also, the charging of school fees as an alternative to paying for education through taxes is a complicated local decision related in part to local logistical issues. Somehow, someone has to fund education. “Free” is an oversimplification.) Beyond that, I think there must be allowances for local issues of culture, society, values, and governance. I don’t pretend to know what all those issues are, but I think the specifics need to be defined by local populations. (See Stian’s discussion of some of these issues.)

[Another approach to resolving the discomfort I’m feeling with mandated universal education is giving a right to decline as discussed by Greg Francom and others.]

For the country that I live in, a prosperous developed country, I think that the right to a free universal education is a basic human right. Why? Our country has the means to provide this and there is a consensus among our populous that it is a basic right. We may differ somewhat in the specifics of what Tomaševski and/or the UN recommend, but the fundamental right is there.

In our country, I think open access to free, high-quality educational opportunity is not sufficient, but that instead it is important to mandate education through a certain age or level. However, I also think that parents have a right to choose (within some parameters) the specifics for their own children’s’ education.

OpenEd-Is education a “basic human right”? – Part 4/Conc.

3 thoughts on “OpenEd-Is education a “basic human right”? – Part 4/Conc.

  • September 1, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    Please keep writing. I find the ideas and thoughts – and personal experiences – from all the participants really valuable. They make me look at the readings in a new light. From working a little bit in international NGOs I almost become immune to these kind of global surveys, long lists of countries, of indicators and human rights. I am much more comfortable with evaluating individual projects or ideas, than setting global milestones. But yours and others writings helped me tease out some of the important ideas in Tomasevski’s writings.

    To me, also, this course is an amazing use of “educational technology” – or use of technology “educationally”. Writing is a funny thing – like talking – I always loved writing in school, for newspapers, long emails, letters to the editor, blog posts. But I found that in university my voice quitened. I found writing academic essays hard. I ended up doing well, but it wasn’t a process I enjoyed. I spent so much time on the form, on polishing my expressions and making bullet-proof outlines, every sentence referenced to somewhere. In writing for my blog I feel much freer, as if people are interested in the ideas that I share, and the experiences I bring to the table, and not just if I can make a bullet proof essay. The process matters more than the final result – like in Wikipedia. I would never start an article if I had to write a finished perfect article from scratch. But now I know that I can start with a few sentences and others will pick up from there. Similarily here I feel that i can throw out some ideas, and others will pick them up and develop them further. Real collaborative learning.


  • September 6, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    Hi Karen, thanks for the reply on my post, you are the first one! Anyway, it does not mean that we agree… :) I see that you support a mandated education in your country. But do you also consider the consequences? When you mandate, you need to verify, and punish when needed. Verification of education is almost impossible, because of the enormous diversity of educational activities and possibilities. In order to make it verifiable, you seek refuge to standard curricula, grades, diplomas, classes, and everything else that does not have anything to do with learning. You are not imposing people to eat according to a certain diet, because in that way you can verify the eating habits? You see, I like to be a little radical, but it does enhance the discussion, don’t you think so?

    PS. I liked the example of the OER-bus, or WiFi-bus in one of your Mobile Learning posts. I agree that mobile learning brings learning physically, and mentally closer to the learner, where it belongs.
    PPS. What do you think of child labor?

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